Purple “Autumn Cat” Tutorial

You may have seen the time-lapse videos of my purple cat (aka Autumn Cat) in progress on Instagram and Facebook, but the videos move so fast I thought I would break them down a bit and offer another tutorial that incorporates the wax-resist technique I talked about in Volume 1 of the Ruby Charm Colors Adult Coloring Art Journal.

Basic tools:

  • A line drawing with some open spaces for you to add your own patterns (can be the main subject or the background—I used page 99 from the RCC Art Journal, v.1)
  • A good white or light colored pencil (or Caran d’Ache Blender Bright)
  • Watercolors (can be Neocolor II pastels, pan watercolors, tubes, etc.) & brush
  • Your favorite colored pencils
  • Gel or metallic pens for embellishments if so desired
  • A decent desk lamp

Since I hadn’t yet charted my Neocolor II pastels in my book (which I took apart and spiral-bound, but that’s for another post), I used up two pages to swatch out all 84 colors. The top tray contains my favorite go-to colors and the bottom tray contains the colors I don’t use as often:

CatColorChart_Neocolor_RubyCharmColors

Color Charts from the Ruby Charm Colors Art Journal

I can’t say enough great things about the Caran d’Ache Neocolor II pastels, by the way. They are creamy, vibrant, and a little goes a long way. If you want to try them, I’d suggest grabbing a few single pastels from Blick to take them for a test drive before investing in a whole set. Also, make sure you get the Neocolor II Aquarelle (watersoluble) pastels if you want to use them like watercolors! I ordered a set from Amazon and received the Neocolor I Wax pastels (which are like crayons and quite wonderful, too, but not what I wanted for my work). Whoops. The set of Neocolor II pastels I have now were a gift from a fellow creative friend and I am still (still!) so thankful of her generosity and kindness.

Once I had my pastel colors charted, I had to figure out what kind of patterns I wanted to draw on the cat’s face to create the wax-resist. I started with flower shapes under the eyes, a few circles, some spiky shapes between the ears, etc. using a white Caran d’Ache Pablo pencil.

I mentioned this in a few other posts (Wax-resist Mouse and also Resist: Using Colored Pencils to Repel Watercolor) but the best colored pencils I have tried for wax-resist are the Pablos, Prismacolors and Holbeins. I have also used the Blender Bright stick and that works really well, too, though it needs sharpening more often. You’ll also need to have really good lighting so you can see what you are doing and differentiate between the shine of your waxy pencil over the matte surface of your paper especially if you are working with white. In the first video below, you can see how I needed to move my lamp around a bit—it is challenging, but be patient because once all your lines are down, the magic begins.

I scribbled a little Aubergine Neocolor II pastel onto the tray of my Winsor & Newton watercolor case, added a little water to mix up the paint, then quickly painted over the white lines I drew on the cat’s face. It takes a second for the wax to resist the water, but when it does, your designs will appear! Next, I added a little red Yasutomo Niji pearlescent watercolor to the Aubergine for the top of the cat’s head.

Important! Don’t make the mistake of coloring with pastels (or watercolor pencils like Inktense) directly over the wax-resist patterns you just carefully drew because it could destroy your design. Instead, mix your watercolors separately and apply them to the paper (and over your wax-resist designs) while they are wet. Also, I used a Caran d’Ache medium tipped water brush though you can use any brush you feel comfortable working with.

And … depending on the paper you are working on, be conscious of how much water your paper can take before it warps or possibly even tears. The paper my cat is printed on can take small amounts of water but it is fairly tough and I have never has issues with tearing. It will buckle a bit, but I’ve found it does smooth back out once it’s fully dry and I start coloring on it with pencils.

Cat_Watercolors_RubyCharmColors

My travel-size Winsor & Newton watercolor sets on the left and the Yasutomo Niji pearlescent watercolors on the right. The Niji’s are quite inexpensive and they add such a beautiful sheen on their own or mixed with other paints.

In the video, you may have noticed I painted the cat’s nose a seemingly weird and bright green (Winsor & Newton Sap Green) but I knew that once I added a little purple to it, I would get the hue I was aiming for—a sort of brownish purple with hints of green I could later emphasize with my pencils. Using a flat brown just wouldn’t have given the nose the same depth and interest. I dabbed the same green over the eyes and added brown on the inside of the ears ( Winsor & Newton Burnt Umber). While my paint was drying, I used Prismacolor Light Aqua, Polychromos Cobalt Turquoise, and Holbein Naples Yellow to shade the eyes, and then a Luminance Buff Titanium pencil to give the eyes some lift. Faber-Castell Pitt pens (S and XS) were used to blacken the eyes and make them pop.

After that, I used a big mix of colored pencils to start refining the cat’s face. Luminance, Holbein, Polychromos and Prismacolors for the larger areas, then my Irojiten pencils for the smaller areas and for redefining some of the lines. I flit through a lot of different colors and pencil brands but try to stay in the same range (more or less).

The nice thing about coloring over lines that are more grey than black (in printed books or pages) means you can add new color over your lines a little more effectively. Why do this? It can make your colorings look more dynamic and artful and less like pages from a coloring book.

It is okay to color over and outside the lines and put your own stamp of creativity on a coloring page! Don’t be afraid to experiment!

I used a few blue and purple Irojitens around the cat’s face and ears. I keep them pretty sharp, and each time I draw a section of line, I have a habit of rotating my pencil so I am always working with the sharpest edge.

I kept bouncing around with my pencils, pulling more colors into the mix and enhancing the wax-resist shapes I had created earlier by coloring around the white lines and not over them. I added a touch of green to the leaves, for example, and a bit of red to the flowers, etc., and just kept working my layers around and up to my white lines. Little touches of color that add interest and variation but don’t overwhelm the overall purpleiciousness of the cat. I used Luminance white and Buff Titanium to smooth out the lighter parts of the cat’s face, and also the Blender Bright to do a little blending and final burnishing in places.

More blending and burnishing in the video below in addition to finishing the left ear with Irojitens (Mulberry, Iris and Plum) and Polychromos Bistre so it would match the other ear. A little more work on the eyes with a Pitt pen, plus I added a few dots of embellishment with a Sakura Souffle gel pen (turquoise) and a Gelly Roll white.

After the face was done, I started working on the body of the cat. Instead of white, I used a Grey-Lavendar Prismacolor to draw my wax-resist shapes (mostly flowers so the body would compliment the face). It was so much easier to see what I was doing while drawing my patterns, but the pencil left a lot of crumbs on my paper. It helps to have a dry brush handy for whisking them away.

Instead of just scribbling a little of the Aubergine Neocolor II pastel on the palette, I used my x-acto blade to scrape pigment off the pastel itself into the lid of my Yasutomo Niji pearlescent paints (because I planned to do a little more mixing with them).

I wanted the body of the cat to be a little darker than the face because 1) it would bring the face forward and give it more emphasis, and 2) it would give me enough contrast against the Grey-Lavendar Prismacolor designs I drew. I mixed a bit more of the Aubergine pigment with water, then added in a few dabs of the coppery-red Niji paint to give the Aubergine some depth and luster. (Unfortunately my camera doesn’t pick up metallics very well, but it looks so rich in person.) I put down a quick layer then went back over the flowers with a touch of the gold and coppery-red Niji paints to enhance them a little.

Now for the funky stripes … lots of Holbein Ice Green and Sky Blue circles and then Neocolor II pastel (Night) over the top.

I didn’t take a time-lapse of the final steps—more pencil work to enhance my colors and adding more gel pen embellishments—but here is the end result is all its purpleicious glory.

CatPurp_RubyCharmColors

If you give this wax-resist technique a try, I would love to see and hear how it works for you.

Comment below, and /or if you post your work on Instagram, please tag me so I see it!

I am @RubyCharmColors on Instagram and you can also use #RubyCharmColors. You can find me and my coloring team on Facebook, too, where we host a private coloring group – just ask to join!